Trout are Beautiful

I think…that trout are beautiful.   Not to paraphrase Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which I read far too long ago to accurately paraphrase anyway, but it seems there is an universality to the beauty of a trout.  They are, even to the non-fisher, “really pretty.”   I’m writing this from inside a house wearing a fresh, heavy blanket of snow — so if I sound desperate, it’s an understandable desperation anyway.  I wanted to make it out fishing today.   But spring is coming and there is stuff to get done.

(Spring, I should note, comes much earlier to the trout stream — and the fly shop — than it does to the calendar)

Indeed, spring is coming…earlier this year than most, it seems.  The long term forecast is dotted with 40s, and since I’ve already seen some black stones, the insect progression has official begun.  From here it will continue, in fits and starts, from the inconsistent but brave bugs of March and April, to the overwhelming flights of the hex.

Before all that, however, are some of the best weeks of streamer and nymph fishing of the year.  Most people miss it, waiting for it to “really warm up.”  But to a trout a few degrees in late February is enough, and if you are the type of angler that likes the challenge of the weather, then this late-winter/early spring fishing is worth considering.  Mix in the first runs of rainbows, which seem to be happening now, and you have an exciting mixed bag of fishing on the river.  Whether it’s the longer days or the water temps or the maturing nymphs, something changes right around March 1st.  The trout we have caught this winter are fat and healthy.  It has been a good winter to be a trout, it seems.

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I’ve been fishing once a week, usually right in front of the lodge.  You don’t need much water this time of year, and with so few people fishing you’re almost guaranteed to enjoy your pick of fishing spots…even right at the bridge.  This warm winter and low water means there are still weeds on the bottom of the river, which means some of my usual nymph runs are too choked with vegetation for good fishing…but there have been so many trout like the one below that even the smallest little pockets are holding fish during the middle of the afternoon.

I’ve found the fish have fully switched over to bug imitations (rather than the oddball winter stuff, eggs and such), and since I usually nymph with two flies, one will be on a jig hook and a tungsten bead and the other will be smaller (think size 16), lighter in weight (standard bead, silver or black nickel, or no bead at all), and suspended above the heavy fly on a tippet tag.  Lately that top fly has been of the caddis ilk, and it has been outfishing everything else two to one.

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It seems too early to write this sort of optimistic report, but when you work in a fly-shop, you feel the spring coming…even in the middle of a school-canceling snow storm.  I mean, I just got done tying a row of hex for the fly box, so that’s where my head is.  It will not be long at all (a week or so) until the river looks like a March river, stained (only slightly this year), hatching a few black stones, and full of possibilities.  My early spring boxes are ready.  Some sight fishing.  A few streamer wades.  That first fish to a black stone.  The Fly Show.    Spring.

We’ve had a blast tying on Saturdays (Free Fly Tying Saturdays).  We’ve been pushed to capacity, so if you’d like to attend, please do RSVP to [email protected].  It’s this Saturday, 9 am – 12 pm.  We welcome tyers of all abilities.  If you have a vise and tools, bring them.  If not, well, don’t sweat it!  See, it’s fun:

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Previous Fishing Reports

Fits and starts

The last few (beautiful) days we’ve seen a little bit of everything on the Au Sable.  Strong BWO hatches that, due to the sunny conditions, haven’t been of much use

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The first mayflies of the season mean something every spring, even if only serving as a sign of spring itself.  For two of the last three days, the mayflies have also meant

Read More »

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